Deliver Us From Ego!
Low self-esteem, high ego. I see this a lot. I see it in myself, especially before. Before my recovery, and sometimes during. I used to get mad at myself because I deserved better than me…Oof. Convoluted thinking, I see that now. But that’s how it was. One time I found a toy bull-head, and I kept it on my dashboard. It was supposed to serve as a talisman against any more bullsh*t. You know, the whole drinking thing. It didn’t work. Another reinforcement of my belief that I’m garbage and I deserve so much better than this.
I was weirdly good at being a drunk. I was very afraid of being found out, deeply ashamed. I lived in such fear of being found out that I kept my head on a swivel. No DUI’s or firings, in fact I was winning “Above and Beyond” performance awards at work, right up until the end. I remember thinking how dumb they must be to reward me. How much better I must be than my coworkers if drunk me is being rewarded. I used all the tricks. Breath mints and eye drops, spatial awareness, positioning myself downwind whenever possible so you wouldn’t smell me. And vodka of course, it’s less stinky, I hoped. I had to appear ok, or at least as good if not better than you. Yellow to red alert, every waking minute. High ego, low self-esteem.
I was born this way, mostly. Some of it had to do with my childhood, of course. My family looked fine. No broken household, solidly upper middle class, we never went hungry. Everything was fine. But it wasn’t, life is not always fine. It just isn’t. On the outside, my family needed to look really good. Problems were minimized or ignored completely. Definitely something to hide from the public eye. To be ashamed of. I don’t fault my parents, not at all. They were loving, and no doubt doing their best. I know my sister and I had better childhoods than our parents did. But I always needed more.
I was such a good sneak drunk that my first counselor at the Betty Ford Center challenged me as to whether I actually drank as much as I claimed! He said people didn’t drink like I said I did and not have consequences. I was really good at doing something terrible. The people at work knew I drank but had no clue how much, or that I drank on their time. My wife knew I drank too much, but she had no idea how much too much. I liked to get drunk at least twice a day. Sometimes three times. I would sneak drink from the crack of dawn until about noon. Then I would make myself scarce and sober up until after work. At that point, I would drink beer openly (and vodka privately) so my wife would think I was drinking for the first time that day. It was a constant obsessive cycle of getting it, hiding it, being drunk but not acting like it, not stinking of booze, and doing it again tomorrow. I was 100% obsessed. Just me and my disease. We were a team and I gave it my all.
I didn’t think very much of myself, but I rarely thought of anyone else.
Today is different. Life is not always perfect. Things go wrong. LIfe happens. I screw up. But now I know what to do. I try to acknowledge it, right away if possible. Bad news doesn’t age well. When there are problems, I address them and become part of a solution. I am no longer part of the problem, at least not for long. I no longer hide from my problems, for very long.
Substance abuse intervention and rehab saved my life. Without a doubt. Even if I didn’t physically die, I was not living. And I could not have done it on my own. Recovery has taught me how to give back. I am less obsessed with myself. I have something to offer. I do esteemable acts. I give back. And in return, I gain self-esteem, and try to minimize my ego. I have to constantly work on that. I believe ego (for me at least) is unhealthy. It can and will make me vain and bitter. I try to be of service now. Not for the rewards, but because it is right and good. I am humbled by my sobriety and grateful for the ability to think of others… and maybe even help.